Psychology of YouTube


While searching for information about the psychology behind YouTube, why it has become such a cultural phenomenon, and why we are drawn to this website full of endless videos about nearly any topic under the sun, I came across mainly links to the YouTube website itself. This could be due to the relative newness of the site and therefore little psychological analysis has been completed or just the large amount of videos regarding psychology on YouTube. The abundance of psychology videos includes topics ranging from general lectures to psychology of pop culture and even in-depth scientific explanations of psychological phenomenon. While some people can easily spend hours on YouTube at a time searching through an unlimited supply of funny videos, the average YouTube video gets only 20 hits in the first month. (Robertson) Because the creators of the site made it easy to upload any kind of videos you’d like, many users upload videos not for the purpose of obtaining “hits” on their video but to send home video updates of their children to relatives or to upload a class projects, where the only views are likely to be classmates and teachers. Only around 1% of videos get over 500,000 views. (Robertson) While YouTube has the capability of reaching information overload, in which users are overwhelmed by the enormity of data offered by the site, users seem to enjoy the amount of information available to them with just a push of a button. The site also serves as an instructive interface in which “how to” videos teach viewers skills ranging from makeup application to self-defense moves. Most videos employ strategies including: the “cute factor,” humor, evoking an emotional response, or music. (Cashmore) However, there is no tried and true formula for achieving YouTube success. Videos that are bizarre and offbeat often top the charts in popularity. The unpredictable nature of the website keeps viewers coming back for more and is a large factor in the site’s success.

Works Cited

Robertson, Mark R. “Average Number of Youtube Views In First Month.” ReelSEO
Video Marketing
. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2012.

Cashmore, Pete. “YouTube: Why Do We Watch?” CNN. Cable News Network, 17 Dec.
2009. Web. 08 Nov. 2012.


4 thoughts on “Psychology of YouTube

  1. The unpredictable nature of the website could be related to the large variety of videos that are available for consumption. Anyone with a YouTube account can choose to upload a video. Since YouTube is available internationally, the range of videos available is very wide. I agree with you that users enjoy the information that is available to them with just a push of a button. YouTube allows users to fast-forward through and rewind videos as they please. Sitting through an entire video is no longer necessary. The instantaneity of YouTube is in line with the fast-paced nature of today’s society, that is very much pervaded by digital media (at least in the U.S.). I think that this aspect of YouTube contributes greatly to its popularity.

  2. I thought your ideas here were really interesting. I had no idea the only the top 1% of videos get over 500,000 views! I feel like I go into YouTube with the assumption that every video was posted with the intention of getting popularity and hits, but that’s actually not the case. It’s so cool to see that YouTube is meant for so much more than that. It can be used as a personal journal or as a way to keep up with family members. It allows people to instantly be in touch and to interact in a more personal way than they could on a phone.

  3. If you were to write book on the psychology of the internet, YouTube would take up about half of that video. It’s such an influential part of our culture today meaning that it must be rich in psychology-y things. What a fortuitous blog topic!

  4. I think the fact that YouTube does have a massive assortment of videos is a very positive thing as there is no “norm” or standard for videos. They come in all sorts of variety which is great because we are all heterogeneous and no one has the exact same taste for consumption of videos. There is of course those videos that you spoke of which become viral and get hundreds of thousands of views which appeal to a wide variety of people.
    I also think that these statistics that you cited are extremely interesting. I thought the average views per video would have been much higher than just twenty and the fact that only 1% get of 500,000 is quite surprising.

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